Chrysler Building Analysis

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The Chrysler Building, New York, is one of the most admired Art Deco style skyscrapers in history. This essay will analyse the Chrysler Building contextually and evaluate the applicability of the theoretical features of the early Modern Movement, as described by Paul Greenhalgh, to it in an attempt to determine exactly what it is that makes the Chrysler Building the icon that it is today.

Historical Background

The Chrysler Building has a rich historical background from which it originates. The famous 77-story Art Deco skyscraper was constructed between the First World War (1914-18) and the Second World War (1939-45) in Manhattan, New York. The Chrysler Building was finally completed in 1930 (Stravitz and Gray, 2002).

The Chrysler automobile …show more content…

The concept of the Chrysler building began as a result of the collaboration between architect, William Van Alen, and contractor, William H. Reynolds.

The original architectural design of the Chrysler Building included an ornamental diamond-shaped crown; showroom windows and 12 stories of glass corners intended to create an open, light environment (Maher, 2013). These high aspirations proved to be too expensive and advanced for Reynolds to implement and as a result, Reynolds sold the design lease to Walter P. Chrysler - an industrialist of the time. At the time, the Manhattan area had become commercially cheap and had sufficient space for new architectural construction. Chrysler recognised the potential of the original design to be transformed into a truly iconic building. In order for Chrysler’s vision of the Chrysler Building to achieve the status of the world’s tallest building, he requested that Van Alen would add additional stories to the original architectural design. However, it is speculated that Chrysler’s vision was rooted within his excessive pride and self-confidence. In essence the Chrysler building was, as described by James Maher (2013) “a huge monument to …show more content…

Yet the Chrysler Building holds some amount of prestige - for to this day it is the tallest brick building supported by an internal steel skeleton structure.

Paul Greenhalgh’s Theoretical Features

The Chrysler Building can be analysed according to Paul Greenhalgh’s theoretical features of the early modern movement, also known as the Pioneer Phase. These features are as follows: decompartimentalisation; social morality; truth; the total work of art; technology; function; progress; anti-historicism; abstraction; internationalism/ universality; transformation and theology. (Lees-Maffei and Houze, 2010) Some of these theoretical features are applicable to the Chrysler Building while others are contradicted by it.

The use of ornamentation on the Chrysler Building - such as the gargoyles and eagles depicted as part of the portrayal of the Machine Age - opposes Greenhalgh’s theoretical feature of truth and

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